Hong Kong saw a record-low voter turnout for Sunday's district council election, with pro-Beijing candidates dominating under a new electoral system only allowing "patriots" to administer the city.

Only 27.5 percent of the 4.3 million eligible voters turned out in the first "patriots-only" local election, official data showed Monday, down sharply from a record-high 71.2 percent in the previous 2019 poll to the lowest level registered since Hong Kong's 18 district councils were established in 1982.

Chief Executive John Lee (2nd from R) and other officials open a ballot box in Hong Kong on Dec. 11, 2023, after the city's district council election was held the previous day. (Kyodo)

The figure apparently reflected voter dissatisfaction that candidates from the major pro-democracy parties in the former British colony were barred from standing for election due to the "patriot" requirement. The low turnout came despite the Hong Kong government's efforts to encourage people to vote by organizing events such as open-air concerts and drone performances.

Voting was extended by 90 minutes Sunday night after multiple polling stations were affected by computer system failures.

A total of six individuals were arrested for allegedly calling on people to cast invalid votes and attempting to disrupt the polls. They included three members of the pro-democracy group League of Social Democrats, who were apprehended ahead of a planned protest outside a polling station.

In the previous poll, the pro-democracy camp clinched a landslide victory, capturing over 80 percent of the 452 directly elected seats and gaining control of 17 of the 18 councils.

Under the new system, pro-democracy parties were unable to field candidates after all failed to secure nominations from government-appointed local committees.

The revamped system also saw the number of seats directly elected by the public reduced significantly, from 452 to 88, while the overall number of seats was lowered from 479 to 470.

Mainland China congratulated Hong Kong for "the successful holding" of the district council election, describing it as "fair, just, enthusiastic and orderly," according to the official Xinhua News Agency.

Beijing said the poll, held under the system to reject "anti-China troublemakers and the external forces backing them," will "inject a powerful impetus into the consolidation of the social foundation for Hong Kong to achieve further prosperity," the report said.

The latest poll follows the 2021 Legislative Council election that underwent a similar overhaul based on Beijing's "patriots-only" principle after the mainland enacted a national security law in 2020 to clamp down on dissent.